4 They traveled from Mount Hor along the route to the Red Sea,[c] to go around Edom. But the people grew impatient on the way; 5 they spoke against God and against Moses, and said, “Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? There is no bread! There is no water! And we detest this miserable food!”
6 Then the Lord sent venomous snakes among them; they bit the people and many Israelites died. 7 The people came to Moses and said, “We sinned when we spoke against the Lord and against you. Pray that the Lord will take the snakes away from us.” So Moses prayed for the people.
8 The Lord said to Moses, “Make a snake and put it up on a pole; anyone who is bitten can look at it and live.” 9 So Moses made a bronze snake and put it up on a pole. Then when anyone was bitten by a snake and looked at the bronze snake, they lived.
Selfish; self-centered; entitled. These are all words that came to mind as I read through these verses and the attitude of the Israelites. They were complaining about God’s provision for them. They were not satisfied with what God was doing in their lives. They wanted what they wanted NOW. Like any good parent, God nipped this bad behavior in the bud. He sent venomous snakes into their midst and people started to die. He got their attention! Once the Israelites were confronted with God’s discipline, they sought out Moses to speak to God. Moses prayed to God on their behalf. In response, He had him build a bronze snake and put it on a pole. If they were bitten, all they had to do was look at the snake and they would live. God made it obvious to them that HE was in control, that HE was their source, and that HE would provide for them. They had to continuously look to Him. God didn’t take away the snakes, but He provided a way for them to be saved.
1What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? 2 You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God. 3 When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.
Selfish; self-centered; entitled. Again, these words come to mind. This time, however, it is not the Israelites who elicit these adjectives, it is me as I see them apply to myself. There are times I have prayed for something and God has not answered the prayer in the timeframe I believe He should have. I get in a bad mood, or start complaining. I want what I want NOW! I thought about how lately I have found myself dissatisfied with my life. What are you doing God? Are you even there? What about me? Selfish; self-centered; entitled.
Through time spent with him, I remembered who God is. He is God, and I am not. He owes me nothing; I owe Him everything. Even if I never receive another answered prayer or blessing, He has already given me the greatest gift: His Son. If He never does another thing for me in this life, He provided a way to live with Him forever in the next. Every day I need to remember this. Every day I need to thank Him. Every. Day. I don’t have a bronze snake on a pole to save me. I have an empty tomb and a risen Savior. When I get outside of my self—my needs, my wants, my wrong motives—I see that truth clearly. I can praise God with a joyful heart and lifted hands.
Father, I know I am selfish. I know I grumble and complain. I know I am not always satisfied with my life. Forgive me LORD for thinking I deserve anything more than you’ve already done on my behalf. I ask for a changed heart—one of gratitude for who you are and thankful that you love me. I ask for a humble spirit that I might look out instead of in and up instead of down. I ask hoping my motives are right. I do not seek pleasure, for that is fleeting. I seek joy. That comes from you alone. In Jesus name, Amen